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Possibilities Abound for Veterans Park

Remove the right hand turning lane? Convert the senior center lot into green space? It's all on the table, said CD1 Chief of Staff Jose Gardea.

José Gardea, Chief of Staff for local Councilmember Ed Reyes, told Patch on Friday that community meetings will be held this fall to lay out the plan for converting Veterans Square Memorial into a public park.

It was previously overseen by the Bureau of Street Services.

Gardea said the change in jurisdiction will allow the city to coordinate with Recreation and Parks' landscape architects to begin designing the future of the memorial.

But, what does that future hold? Gardea said that will be determined by the residents of Highland Park.

Gardea said a series of Charrettes--or design-focused community meetings--will be held in the fall to begin forming plans for the park.

"We're not walking in with any set parameters," Gardea said.

In a previous story about the memorial, transportation blogger Severin Martinez suggested that the park could be expanded by eliminating the right-turn-only lane that runs along its perimeter.

"I think a lot of people would like to see that happen, but you would have to be able to massage traffic patterns," Gardea said. "A lot of these ideas have positives and negatives."

Gardea said it was also possible that at least a portion the parking lot could be replaced with green space, should the Senior Center's leaders agree to such a plan.

Some work is already underway near the square. Last week, the low brick wall that runs along the Senior Center parking lot was removed. Gardea said it was done in the interest of public safety.

"The wall was built with a zig-zag design, which provided corners that were very conducive for setting up homeless camps or doing drugs," Gardea said.

He added that, while homelessness was a concern for Council District 1, it was not one that was directly tied to the revitalization of the memorial.

"The homeless issue is a real issue, whether or not we design a new park," he said.

Gardea said that the district has been in contact with the Los Anglees Homeless Services Authority, and has found that many of the homeless living around the memorial were not interested in receiving services.

"It's difficult when you encounter refusal of service," he said .

Qtee1981 September 08, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Love the idea!!!! This is in the center of the two main streets in highland park it should look beautiful & inviting.
Rebecca Prine September 08, 2012 at 04:34 PM
"It's difficult when you encounter refusal of service", you know what else is difficult when the services offered are on the other side of los angeles (westwood) or located in skid row. Perhaps José Gardea and Reyes should come along for a homeless outreach and engage with people who call this area home however are often overlooked by their community.
Susan Andres September 08, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Thank you, Rebecca. Perhaps if we spent more money on public amenities (such as accessible public restrooms and staff to keep them and all our public spaces clean and safe for everyone - including for people who prefer to live outdoors) and less money subsidizing big oil and waging wars on the other side of the world, we might learn what it feels like to live in a civilized, tolerant, just nation. I remember chatting with one of the people who lived in that park, before the hideous fence was put round it - a gentle, cheerful, kind, open soul. I think of that person - by name - every time I hear people like Gardea and Reyes (whose names I can hardly bother to remember) spouting on about "the homeless."
S.M. September 08, 2012 at 06:16 PM
I found we could expand the veteran memorial by about an acre if we converted the right turn lane and parking lot into an extension of the existing public space http://walkeaglerock.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/highland-park-veteran-memorial-potential/
Nimby pimp September 08, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Nice work.
Rob Schraff September 08, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Here's an interesting article re: providing basic sanitation, without the problems of illicit activity in restrooms: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-08-29-portland-loo-20120829,0,104499.story?page=2 The article seems to indicate that LA has already outsourced public restrooms to a French company? Anyway something definitely worth exploring, either way.
ChickenBoyFan September 08, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I'm glad we are expanding the Veteran's Memorial Park. We will have a wonderful public space for ALL to enjoy when we are through. There is nothing more to be said. It's a winner.
The MOG September 08, 2012 at 11:15 PM
My feeling are that if it that's the case, then in order to facilitate this plan, York & Fig. going N., will be a No-Right Turn Lane. That's the ONLY way to facilitate a free flow of traffic on Fig. You're going to have a lot of people wanting to make that right turn. It's essential. How else is traffic going to proceed East on York, from Fig? It's going to be completely shut off. I do not think that is feasable, it defies practicality. It's like the present situation for drivers headed S. on Fig. Many motorist insist on making that left turn, headed E. on York. Even though it's been illegal since the construction started. They ignore the No-Left Turn causing complete havoc, & blocking the free flow of traffic. No, that Right-Turn is necessary and can not be closed. That fact doesn't preclude Green Space for The Senior Center Parking Lot.
Peter Bedard September 09, 2012 at 05:46 AM
I LOVE it! The more public community space the better. It would be an awesome location for a "town square" or even "Zocalo"!!!
Hector Huezo September 10, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Self washing, public toilets in other cities often pay for themselves with help from advertising revenue from advertisements on the side of the 'WC". This seems like a feasible idea being how well traveled the intersection of Fig and York is...Though far form a real solution to meet the needs of the homeless population in the Northeast, it's a step in the right direction. Meeting the needs of homeless people in the area, by the way, is of mutual benefit to businesses and the non-homeless, alike.
KingSlav September 10, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Why would we want to eliminate the ability for northbound Figueroa traffic to make right turns onto York? Your proposal offers no explanation of how this traffic would be relieved.
ChickenBoyFan September 10, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I think a self washing/ public toliet utility would be an incredible concept for the Rec Center, across the street, since there is a swimming pool facility there. They have a huge park space, which would accomodate this easily. I would like to see this park, at York and Fig. maintained as a Memorial to Veterans and a simple walkable green space.
ChickenBoyFan September 10, 2012 at 06:33 PM
PS: Zocalos are a nice concept, Peter, but I really don't want to see anymore concrete parks. Check out the concrete madness of Confluence Park, at Figueroa/Riverside. It is dreadful, with waterspouts to boot. Nice place to bathe/ shower, though. If only there were soap dispensers, and see through showers, which opaque out the booty parts, other than heads, some shoulder, and legs (to prevent sex-type shenanigans. Is this town ready to have amenities which don't get graffitied, tagged, etched, carved, and otherwise vandalized? Think so? I invite you to stop in at the Arroyo Seco Library bathrooms, to see what you think about their public toilets, then get back to me.

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